When I worked at a college sandwich shop, my first encounter with sauerkraut came when I made it. If you were late, the rule was that you would have to make “sauerkraut.” The sauerkraut came pre-made in a huge can and you had mix it with the mayonnaise. It was my least favorite task and it was a big motivator for me to arrive on time.
It’s not the same. This sauerkraut is made from scratch using simple ingredients that promote a healthy digestive system. (There’s also no mayonnaise to be seen). It’s also super simple to master and only requires 7 ingredients. Let’s do it!
What is Sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. Since thousands of years, it has been consumed because of its probiotic properties and is high in vitamins C and B, as well as A and K.
This recipe is easy to make and inexpensive!
Sauerkraut: Its Origins
Sauerkraut is not a German invention. Who would have thought ? ?
It is believed that sauerkraut originated in the north of China. Around 1000 years after its origin, it made its way to Europe and was consumed by Dutch sailors as a means to prevent scurvy due to the vitamin C content of sauerkraut.
Sauerkraut: How to Make it?
This recipe starts with the simplest form, which is cabbage and salt.
After adding the salt, massage the cabbage with clean hands. Massage for about 10 minutes until it has shrunk and a lot of liquid has been released at the bottom of the bowl. The next two pictures show the progress.
I chose shredded beets and carrots to give the dish a bright orange-magenta color. Then, add fresh ginger and turmeric and minced fresh garlic. This results in a fresh vegetable sauerkraut that is perfectly salted and infused with garlic, ginger and earthy yellow turmeric. Swoon!
The only thing left is to pack the kraut into sterilised jars, and make sure the liquid that was extracted during the massaging process rises and covers it for optimal fermentation. Let it do its work. Let it ferment naturally by putting it in a cupboard or on the counter away from direct sunlight for 1-14 (or more) days.
- 8 cups of red or green cabbage, finely grated (or chopped).
- Add more salt to taste.
- 1 small beet (finely shred)
- 3 carrots whole (finely shred)
- 3 Tbsp freshly grated or shredded ginger
- 3 Tbsp of fresh turmeric (shredded or grated).
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- You should sterilize any equipment that you plan to use for fermentation. This includes the jars. We prefer these 850ml Weck jars. Sterilizing all equipment is essential for a proper fermentation. Pour boiling water on clean jars, lids and allow to dry completely. Add ingredients after letting the jars come to room temperature.
- Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt to a large bowl with finely grated kale (we used the mandolin). Massage the cabbage for 10 minutes. The cabbage will start to soften, shrink in size and release water (see picture). Continue massaging the cabbage until you see this.
- Add the shredded carrot, beets, ginger, turmeric and garlic. Massage again with clean hands, for about 4-5 minutes, until everything is well combined (see picture). Taste test the mixture and adjust flavors by adding more garlic or grated ginger to intensify garlic flavor.
- Press down hard to pack the sauerkraut into your sterilised jars using your clean hands. The liquid should rise and cover the vegetables after massaging. If this does not happen, add filtered water to cover the vegetables (it’s unlikely you will have to do so).
- Also, make sure that there is enough space (about 1 1/2 inch) between the contents of the container and the lid to allow it to expand. Seal the container with a lid, and place it on a counter or cabinet where you don’t get much sun. It is best to keep the temperature above 65 degrees F. (18 C) to promote fermentation.
- Fermentation may occur in as little as 24 hours, if the space is warm, or as much as two weeks (again depending on your environment). Our sweet spot was about 10 days.
- Open your jars every day during the fermentation process to let out air. (You should see bubbles and feel air pressure when you open them). Use a sterile object, such as the bottom of a glass or a spoon to press down on the vegetables. Doing so helps encourage proper fermentation.
- As it ferments longer, it becomes tangier. So, test it periodically with a clean spoon to see if you are at the right stage. Once the desired level of tanginess is reached, transfer the mixture to the refrigerator, where it will keep for at least three months, and possibly up to six months. Avoid contamination by not doubling dip when serving.